I saw this new to Netflix movie 3 times in theaters — and it’s 98% on Rotten Tomatoes

 Marcel the Shell (voiced by Jenny Slate) standing on a map in Marcel The Shell With Shoes On.
Marcel the Shell (voiced by Jenny Slate) standing on a map in Marcel The Shell With Shoes On.

I visit my local movie theater multiple times a week but I rarely see the same movie twice. My annual goal is to see as many new films as possible, so I don’t usually have the time to watch a movie multiple times in cinema, but I made an exception for “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”.

I didn’t just enjoy Marcel’s delightful adventure twice in theaters, I went back for a third showing for good measure. Naturally, as soon as the movie was available to buy digitally I purchased a copy, and I’ve subsequently watched it three more times.

I’ve spent the last two years trying to convince pretty much everyone I know to give this movie a watch, so you can imagine my delight when Netflix confirmed its slate of new movies for February 2024, and “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” was on the list.

The movie arrives on Netflix today (Saturday, Feb. 24), and I’m here to implore you to watch it ASAP. If you’re looking for a feel-good movie that will raise your spirits as we move through the bleak winter, you need to get properly acquainted with Marcel.

Meet Marcel the Shell

If you spent a lot of time online in the early 2010s may already be familiar with Marcel. This feature film is based on a series of web shorts that premiered between 2010 and 2014 and follow Marcel, a one-inch-tall anthropomorphic seashell, as he goes about his daily life.

The movie primarily follows the same structure, just with a slightly larger scope. “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is presented in a documentary style with the eponymous character recounting his day-to-day activities to a filmmaker named Dean, who’s just moved into Marcel’s home (which is actually an Airbnb) after breaking up with his girlfriend.

The optimistic shell explains everything from his unique methods of traversing the house, which include using sticky honey to walk up walls and converting a tennis ball into a rolling vehicle, to his obsession with “60 Minutes”, which he watches with his grandmother, Nana Connie. Marcel also offers his unique musings on life and lays out how a shell colony operates.

While “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is generally a pretty low-stakes affair, there’s a degree of dramatic drive thanks to Marcel’s determination to be reunited with his lost family. This plot thread keeps the movie ticking along across its lean 90-minute runtime, but the movie is mostly a character study dedicated to one of cinema’s most charming creations.

The perfect dose of positivity

An image from Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
An image from Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

As you might expect, Marcel is the star of his own movie. The adorable miniature protagonist is instantly loveable, and his eccentric personality is likely to win you over completely.

Many of Marcel’s thoughts on the world are laugh-out-loud funny. I especially love his explanation of why he doesn’t like the phrase “everything comes out in the wash” or his dislike of Dean’s dog, Arthur. Plus, his relentless positivity is greatly inspiring in today’s often cynical society.

The always-excellent Jenny Slate brings Marcel to life through a truly wonderful voice performance. Slate embuses Marcel with a youthful naïve quality, but also gives the character a contemplative edge that occasionally verges on being wise beyond his young years. This allows “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” to be a little more thoughtful at certain points.

Your time spent with Marcel is generally pretty breezy, but the movie does gently touch on more serious subjects such as grief and the difficulty of finding your place in the world. It’s pretty impressive that writer/director Dean Fleischer Camp manages to make a movie about an animated talking seashell genuinely profound enough to produce a tear.

An image from Marcel the Shell with Shoes One showing Marcel and Nana Connie
An image from Marcel the Shell with Shoes One showing Marcel and Nana Connie

If I had to sum up “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” in a single word, it would be heartful. This is a rare movie without a cynical bone in its body. It’s funny, it’s endearing and it’s just the right amount of melancholic to give your heartstrings a tug. It’s the sort of movie that is perfect for those days when you’re feeling a little sad and need a movie to cheer you up.

Marcel is a hit with critics

If my words above haven’t done enough to convince you that “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is the next Netflix movie you really need to watch, then I can assure you that I’m far from the only one enamored with this pint-sized hero. Almost everybody seems to love Marcel.

The movie currently holds a near-perfect 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and that rating leaps up to a full 100% if you filter by “Top Critics”. Its audience score is similarly high, currently at 90% on RT from more than 1,000 ratings.

Marcel was also nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes last year, and while it lost out to Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio both times, the loveable shell made a memorable cameo on the Oscar red carpet.

And once you’ve watched the movie on Netflix, and almost certainly fallen in love with the talking shell for yourself, you can get your very own Marcel as the A24 store sells a metal figurine of Marcel, which is quite possibly my favorite piece of movie merchandise ever.

More from Tom's Guide